TPEP graduate Nia is 19 years old and the mother to Tyrone, 15 months old.
I lived in Miami, FL with my aunt. My high school graduation was one of my greatest accomplishments. Just 160 students in my class of 400 received a diploma, so I feel I beat the odds. Nonetheless, I was 3 months’ pregnant when I walked across the stage and accepted my diploma. When my aunt discovered my pregnancy, she immediately kicked me out of her house, her life, and worst of all, her heart. I became sad, depressed and angry. I was also frustrated and wasn’t sure what would happen to me and my child. The baby’s father and his parents allowed me to live with them for a time.
Although my life was shattered, things improved gradually. A caring aunt on my father’s side of the family who lives in Washington, D.C. invited me to move in with her. This was an opportunity of hope and I gladly accepted. I arrived in D.C. with absolutely nothing but my desire to change my life and to provide a safe, happy and healthy life for my unborn child. My aunt and other family members collectively provided me with the necessary shelter, emotional, and financial support I needed so that I could move forward in a healthy and productive way. God is great and I am tremendously grateful.
It takes a “village” to have a child – and HBP provided one
My aunt gave me a place to live and I now reside in her home. She also referred me to Healthy Babies Project and the Family Health & Birth Center so that I could learn more about being a parent as well as how to take care of myself while pregnant. Working with the Healthy Babies Project helped connect me to services and resources that would help me to survive and provide for my child (i.e. food stamps and Medicaid) because I had no food or insurance and was worried for the future of my unborn.
I also attended and graduated from Teen Parent Empowerment Program (TPEP) – a class filled with other teen parents like me. TPEP helped me learn about the importance of education, health and nutrition, breastfeeding techniques, STDs, how to build healthy relationships, and how to begin plan for my new future in a constructive manner. It was an awesome experience that allowed me to receive educational information and also gave me comfort in knowing that there are other people who could relate to me. I especially enjoyed the prenatal yoga classes, which gave me peace and enlightenment throughout my pregnancy as well as taught me how to be calmer and healthier.
A bright future lies ahead
Today I am a successful student at the Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC) majoring in Respiratory Therapy. My son is enrolled at one of the top daycare centers in the city. I feel more confident, grounded and tremendously grateful for both my challenges and blessings. I am still actively pursuing housing. Healthy Babies has referred me to several transitional housing programs.
I have been very blessed to be apart of this program and the HBP family because they’ve offered me so much. Without them, I would be completely lost. I can honestly say that coming to Washington, DC was the best decision I could have made for me and my son. Thank you, HBP, for not only giving me an opportunity for change but also for helping me to provide a better life for my beautiful son, Tyrone.
HBP not only believes that it takes a village to raise a child, but they also live out that truth. For that, I will be forever grateful.
If you know an at-risk pregnant D.C. resident who needs support, encourage her to contact Healthy Babies Project at (202) 396-2809.